All posts from

February 2007

treeblog - the birth of something beautiful

Hello there. You are reading the first ever post at treeblog. Right now, there isn’t a whole lot of interest here. Yet with time, I hope that will change. treeblog won’t be your average blog (or at least I hope not). The purpose of treeblog - the point of its existence - is to form a chronology of the development of a group of trees, right from being planted as seeds or nuts. To chart their development from germination to maturity… supposing that they don’t die before they get there. At this moment, the first trees have yet to be planted. But I have in my possession one packet of Scots pine seeds. Soon these seeds will be planted, and treeblog will be well on its way to documenting its first germinated tree. It is my intention to plant these seeds at the end of March.

Until that date and beyond, I will also post here non-treeblog-tree tree-related news, photographs, and information: general tree nuggets really, like word-acorns falling from my finger-oaks. If you like the sound of this… why not check back in a few days? Or at least around April Fools’ Day, by which time the fun should well and truly have begun.

* * * * *

Coincidentally, today is 'I Love Pine' Day.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Enter one packet of Scots pine seeds

As I mentioned in the first post (the post that hurts the most), I have a packet of Scots pine seeds. It came into my possession at a careers fair hosted by the University of Edinburgh on the 11th of October 2006. A friend and I visited the Forestry Commission stand, and we were each given a packet as a promotional freebie.

Contents: Scots pine seeds
Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is native to all parts of Britain
promo seed Lot. no. 288246

If you also have one of these packets, I would be most interested to hear how your seeds turn out!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Gnarly birch

Downy birch (Betula pubescens) on Whitwell Moor.
Taken 3rd April 2006.

Posted in Gone for a walk

Rhododendron ponticum L. - enemy of the woodland

Rhododendron ponticum is a non-native evergreen shrub species existing in the British Isles as an alien. It is an extremely important species for two main reasons. Firstly, it is superbly adapted to thrive in many British habitats; particularly woodland, of both coniferous and broad-leaved varieties. R. ponticum is ‘thoroughly naturalised’ in many woodlands, particularly on sandy podzolic soils. This prolific invader is a substantial ecological menace to the natural woodland flora and fauna of the British woodland. Its foliage is so thick that it casts a dense shadow that prevents light reaching other woodland flowers. Further, R. ponticum contains poisonous chemicals, thus inhibiting predation, and deters competition allelopathically via the secretion of acids. Secondly, it is a host plant of Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen behind Sudden Oak Death. For these reasons, R. ponticum must be managed in order to curb its negative effects upon the natural ecology of the British Isles. Unfortunately, R. ponticum is particularly difficult to eradicate; its waxy leaves render herbicides generally impotent, it produces vast quantities of seed, and it requires much labour to chop down or uproot, it being a large plant.

The above passage is an abridged version of the introduction to an essay I am writing as part of my degree in Ecological Science at the University of Edinburgh. I just hope that people realise, if they didn't already, the tremendous damage being done to our woodlands by rhododendrons.

R. ponticum inflorescence.

Posted in Invasive species + Pests and diseases

Sudden Oak Death - be on the lookout

Sudden Oak Death is the term used to describe the disease caused by the fungal pathogen Phytophthora ramorum amongst oaks. However, P. ramorum is not limited to oaks: it has the potential to cause disease over a range of hosts in Britain. A DEFRA information leaflet published in 2006 lists known UK hosts:

To date the full range of known ornamental hosts in the UK and Europe include species of Arbutus, Calluna (heather), Camellia, Griselinia, Hamamelis (witch-hazel), Kalmia, Laurus (laurel), Leucothoe, Lonicera (honeysuckle), Magnolia, Osmanthus, Parrotia, Photinia, Pieris, Rhododendron, Syringa (lilac), container grown Taxus (yew), Umbellularia californica (Californian bay laurel) and Viburnum. Most nursery findings have been on container-grown Rhododendron, Viburnum and Camellia plants. However, the main threat is to tree species and other ecologically important plants, such as heathland species.

In October 2003, a southern red oak tree (Quercus falcata), a native American species, was the first tree infected with P. ramorum in the UK. There have since been findings in the UK on several other oak species (holm oak, turkey oak, sessile oak), as well as ash, European beech, horse chestnut, sweet chestnut, sycamore and Winter’s bark. Infected rhododendrons have been in close proximity to all infected UK trees to date. Experimental work has highlighted other tree species that could also be at risk from P. ramorum in the UK. These include Douglas fir, maple spp., Noble fir, Lawson cypress and Sitka spruce.

Symptoms of the disease vary amongst the different hosts, but in general dieback of foliage and bleeding cankers on the trunks of trees are good indicators of P. ramorum infection. Full details can be found in the DEFRA leaflet available here [.pdf format, 873kb]. If you suspect a plant of being infected by P. ramorum, contact DEFRA immediately! (Contact details can be found in the leaflet)

Posted in Pests and diseases

Scots pine & larch

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and larch on Whitwell Moor.
Taken 3rd April 2006.

Posted in Gone for a walk

More treeblog seeds: cider gum eucalyptus

Yesterday at uni I was working in a practical which involved placing different seeds in various conditions in petri dishes. When the practical was over, I took the liberty of smuggling away the leftover seeds. I don't think they'll be missed.

The seeds are Eucalyptus gunnii, a.k.a. the cider gum. I don't know much about this tree, but a quick search revealed that this tree can be 20 feet tall in just six years!

Watch this space...

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog's items Go to treeblog's photostream